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Bath had a clearly devised plan for how to defend against Saints’ heavy artillery in the back division. When Myler called a wide move to try and put George North away on the left wing, they shuffled across softly, happy for the attack to crab toward the touchline. Then, they stepped up smartly when the ball reached the Wales wrecking ball and had two men there to hammer him into touch as soon as he had the ball.
They also knew what they had to do if the cavalry was sent down George Ford’s channel.
The Bath No. 10 was declared unavailable for England duty this summer, as he will undergo a shoulder operation after this final, so Saints sent the likes of Luther Burrell and Samu Manoa down his channel to test that damaged side out. Bath protected their playmaker, stationing the likes of Carl Fearns and Ollie Divoto in his place to deal with the hard-charging Northampton men.
The third element of their defensive plan that worked well was their commitment to swarming all over Saints players as soon as they began to hesitate in attack. It forced Anthony Watson’s opening try when Ken Pisi was turned over and was a hallmark of their first-half efforts.
Saints showed their intelligence by changing tactics in the second half to stay away from that feverish Bath rearguard, playing territory and putting the pressure back on Bath to force errors and give Myler the chance to get back into the contest.
It was a clear sign that Jim Mallinder is able to identify a problem and communicate to his players how to change their plan to overcome it.